Devour

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Chapter 16

Briar

“Briar.”

I knew that voice.

“Briar, sweetheart, wake up.”

I felt those familiar large hands cradle my cheek and my heart warmed with love and longing. He was here with me. I can feel him.

“I don’t have much time, sweetheart. Wake up for me.” He whispered in a coaxing voice.

It brought so much raw emotions and a tear slipped from my cheek. Obediently, I opened my eyes to stare at my dead husband.

“Dave.” I breathed, feeling an ache in my chest.

He was wearing his army uniform. A medical medallion clung onto his right chest and emblem to his arms. He looks just as handsome and as healthy as the last time I had seen him before he was deployed.

Dave smiled down at me, bending down to kiss my forehead before brushing the tip of my nose with his.

“I missed you.”

“I missed you too. I missed you so much.” I said through my tears, reaching up to hold onto his hands that were cradling my cheeks.

“Why did you leave me?” I asked opening my eyes to meet him. “Why didn’t you come back like you promised?”

“I wanted to. You know I wanted to but things happen for a reason.” He looked sad and broken. “It kills me to see you in pain. I watched you cry and mourn for me.”

“Because I love you. I love you with all my heart.” I moved to wrap my arms around him. He felt so real, in our room, on our bed, holding me close to his chest.

I felt his breath brush against my hair as he sighed. His hands rubbing soothing circles on my back to comfort me.

“I love you too, sweetheart.” Sadness lurked in voice. “I will always love you.”

“Stay with me. Don’t leave me then.” I urged.

He chuckled and kissed the top of my head, “If I can I will but you know I can’t. You know you are dreaming, Briar. I came here to tell you that it is okay. You can move on. You can love another. I want you to be happy.”

“It’s not the same.” I shook my head in denial but I can feel another presence next to me, one that also kept me warm. One that also makes me happy. One that also makes me safe.

“He cares for you.” Dave replied, he squeezed me tightly. “He cares for you just how I care for you.”

“But my feelings for him isn’t the same.” I pulled back, wanting to reason with him.

“No, it isn’t.” Dave responded honestly. “There are many kinds of love and this one you can’t deny. You’re right. You don’t love him the way you love me but you do love him.”

Love?

Can I honestly deny the fact that I do feel something for Chase? I can’t lie to Dave and he knows me better than anyone.

He lifted my chin with his fingers so that I can look him in the eyes. They were so different from Chase’s emerald ones but it just as beautiful.

“I want you to be happy. I want you to move on, Briar. Do it for me. Don’t put your life at a stop sign. Be happy. Live the life you and I couldn’t do together.”

I felt him slipping away. No matter how hard I tightened my grip, he was disappearing right before me but he didn’t stop smiling.

“Dave...” Tears streamed down my cheek. He was leaving me all over again. My heart felt like it was being stabbed repeatedly.

“I love you, Briar.” His voice sounded distant and sad.

“Dave...” I called out one more time but I knew he wouldn’t come back. he was gone. “Dave!”

“Briar.” Chase’s voice pierced my sleeping state and immediately my eyes opened to see him lying in bed next to me, naked. I cried and fell into his arms. The emotions I was feeling it shook me like nothing else. My love for Dave was still as strong as ever and seeing him again--it made me feel the distraught of losing him all over again.

Chase held me in his arms as I sobbed into his naked chest. He murmured soothing sound and told me it’s okay. That everything will be alright.

Dreaming about him, brought so many memories and sadness back.

After I cried until I had no tears left, I sniffled and pulled back. My eyes landed on his wet chest and I realized I had cried all over him. He didn’t seem to care though. Instead, he placed two fingers underneath my chin and lifted my face up so my eyes will meet his.

“What happened? Are you okay?” He asked, concern evident in his tone.

I nodded, “I just had a sad dream.”

“Do you want to tell me about it?” He asked, giving me the option to reveal what I dreamt about.

I glanced away from him and to the top drawer of my dresser. Inside was Dave’s picture and our wedding picture. Chase’s eyes flickered to the dresser before coming back to me.

“What’s wrong, Briar?” he questioned again.

I sniffled and wiped at my tears, “It is nothing.”

I pulled the covers off my body and walked to the bathroom to wash my face. When I looked back up I saw Chase was leaning against the door, observing me. His arms crossed over his chest. I wet a face towel and walked over to him and began to wipe away my wet tears from him.

One of his hand moved to grab my wrist. He wanted me to look at him. My eyes found his again.

“I dreamed about my dead husband.” I told him a sad and lost tone. Unable to hold his gaze, I turned to look back at the dresser.

“After so many months, you will think I can get over him. That I should be able to move on but seeing him again—talking to him. It brought back so much memories. So much emotions. I felt what I felt the day I was told he was gone. Pain—like someone was stabbing me in the chest, inflicting the most painful torture I could imagine. I love him, Chase. I still do.” I whispered and felt another tear slip the corner of my eye.

Chase’s hand came up and cupped my cheek. He wiped the tears away before turning me back to face him. He leaned forward and pressed a soft kiss on my forehead.

“It’s okay to love him even after he is gone, Briar. We never forget the ones we love once they are gone. You shouldn’t be ashamed or upset about what you feel. Those feelings are what makes you the amazing person that you are.” He whispered softly before pulling me back into his arms. Tears leaked again like a stream of water. I wasn’t sobbing any longer, but I couldn’t stop crying.

I wrapped my arms around his waist and held on tight. It felt good to hug someone, to hold onto something while I cried my heart out. Chase was right. I shouldn’t feel ashamed or upset. Dave was someone special to me. He was the love of my life.

“Thank you.” I murmured into his chest.

“I understand loss, Briar. It’s heart wrenching painful but we just got to learn to move on but remember them at the same time. I know you love your husband and it is okay with me.” Chase soothed my pain by running his fingers gently through my hair.

After that, he took me back to bed and held me in his arms. I laid on his chest and listened to his heart beat. It thumped in an even rhythmic pace. My mind wandered back to my dream.

Dave was gone but Chase was here. But for how long? Chase made it strictly clear that he only wanted a professional relationship. That I shouldn’t fall in love with him because that wasn’t what he was looking for.

I don’t know if being with him and sleeping with him was a good idea now. My heart was dangerously close to falling for him and I don’t know if I can survive this.

I will do what Dave asked. I will move on for him but I can’t risk another heartache.

I will have to let Chase go. It was my only option before I fall even harder.

But just the thought of not seeing him...it already was hurting me.

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